This week the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) managed to pull its head out of the sand long enough to finally conclude there’s an eighty percent chance the extreme weather patterns noted over the last few years result from man-made climate change.
Below are some significant facts contributing to this shift in official US scientific opinion:
“-The UK experienced a very warm November 2011 and a very cold December 2010. In analyzing these two very different events, UK scientists uncovered interesting changes in the odds. Cold Decembers are now half as likely to occur now versus fifty years ago, whereas warm Novembers are now 62 times more likely.
– La Niña-related heat waves, like that experienced in Texas in 2011 where many areas experienced consecutive days over 100° Fahrenheit, are now 20 times more likely to occur during La Niña years today than La Niña years 50 years ago.
– Major greenhouse gas concentrations, including carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, continued to rise.Carbon dioxide steadily increased in 2011 and the yearly global average exceeded 390 parts per million (ppm) for the first time since instrumental records began. This represents an increase of 2.10 ppm compared with the previous year. There is no evidence that natural emissions of methane in the Arctic have increased significantly during the last decade. [Despite media misinformation to the contrary, pledges to reduce emissions by industrial nations committed to Kyoto have all been broken – RJA]
– Four independent datasets show 2011 among the 15 warmest since records began in the late 19th century, with annually-averaged temperatures above the 1981–2010 average, but coolest on record since 2008. The Arctic continued to warm at about twice the rate compared with lower latitudes. On the opposite pole, the South Pole station recorded its all-time highest temperature of 9.9°F on December 25, breaking the previous record by more than 2 degrees. Note: The South Pole/Antarctica region continues to grow ice across the region. Meanwhile, the Arctic ice continues to melt and decrease.
– Ocean heat content, measured from the surface to 2,300 feet deep, continued to rise since records began in 1993 and was record high.
– Oceans were saltier than average in areas of high evaporation, including the western and central tropical Pacific, and fresher than average in areas of high precipitation, including the eastern tropical South Pacific, suggesting that precipitation is increasing in already rainy areas and evaporation is intensifying in drier locations.
– The floods experienced in Thailand cannot be directly related to global warming and climate change as rainfall rates in the region were not completely unusual. In fact, reservoir policies and increased construction on the flood plain were the primary reasons why flooding occurred.
– Arctic sea ice extent was the second lowest ever recorded since record keeping began. Maximum ice extent was roughly 5.65 million square miles, on March 7, 2011 and the minimum extent was roughly 1.67 million square miles on September 9, 2011.”
So significant is this shift off-the-fence by NOAA, even the US corporate-controlled media couldn’t ignore it, though the extent to which certain news outlets ‘played down’ the information was almost laughable.
The Washington Post, for example, lifts its head out the dust momentarily, to tell us:
“…the globally averaged temperature of the planet has risen beyond any doubt beyond where you would expect … with natural variability alone…”
This, they point out right at the start, is the view of one man, Martin Hoerling, a research meteorologist at NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory.
They fail to acknowledge it’s also the view of 378 climate scientists from 48 countries around the world, who all contributed data to NOAA’s ‘2011 State of the Climate’ report.
The WP article concludes:
Whereas scientists are making advances in linking climate change and extreme weather, the NOAA/UK Met Office study cautions: “Currently, attribution of single extreme events to anthropogenic climate change remains challenging.”
But the study also notes considerable progress has been made in this area of research, and it’s not unreasonable to link certain weather events and climate change provided percentages or probabilities are used to characterize any connection.
Linking climate change and heat wave intensity is less controversial than linking climate change and the intensity of precipitation extremes. The study found that in some cases, extreme weather occurred with no apparent link to climate change. For example, no strong connections was identified between climate change and the devastating Thailand floods of 2011.
Climate change is universally recognized as a current event. Only once does the WP deign to mention ‘man-made’ climate change, or ‘human-induced’, as they discreetly put it. In a quote towards the end of the article the term ‘anthropogenic’ crops up. Presumably, an assumption by the WP editor that his readers won’t know what it means.
Note, also, that the piece ends with a climate-change negative: Thailand’s floods weren’t connected to climate change. The presumption: that the extreme, devastating, floods in parts of the US, Europe, Australia, and many other areas of the planet, weren’t either.
KENS5 of San Antonia, Texas, went even further in downplaying a report that should really shock this major polluter nation into action.
It starts off well enough:
“There (is) definitely is a connection between greenhouse gases and extreme weather,” said Tom Karl, who heads NOAA’s climate office. “We are seeing very strong evidence to suggest that not all, but many, of the extremes we’re seeing around the planet are being enhanced by greenhouse gases.”
His comments marked the first time government scientists have made a statistical link between extreme weather and human behavior. NOAA recently looked at 50 years of weather data in Texas and concluded that humans made last year’s drought 20 times likelier to happen.’
You will note that Tom Karl is the head of NOAA’s climate office.
KENS5 then drops the ball completely by bringing in ‘Neil’. In the following paragraph, Neil Frank is described as ‘a meteorologist’. His qualifications (if any), who he works for, whether he is an amateur or professional weather man, are ignored. All that matters is Neil’s opinion:
Others, however, disagree. Meteor-ologist Neil Frank said NOAA’s data did not go back far enough, and did not explain how some parts of the world became cooler.
“When we talk about global warming or climate change, we’ve got to look at the entire planet,” Frank said. “We can’t just zero in on one small area.”
If Neil had bothered to read NOAA’s ‘2011 State of the Climate’ report he wouldn’t have needed to proceed further than the section marked ‘CONTENTS’ to realize this was a fairly comprehensive study of every country, region, ocean, ice sheet, and weather pattern on the planet.
He obviously hadn’t.
Not content with blitzing the head of NOAA’s climate office with an almost anonymous nondescript, KENS5’s ‘journalist’ then feels the balance must be redressed and heads off to the ‘Houston Memorial Park’, where he approaches the first person he can find, who couldn’t care less about climate change and just wishes this annoying little reporter would bugger off and leave her to find a shady spot where she can sweat out the heatwave in peace.
At Houston’s Memorial Park, at least one woman was willing to accept human responsibility.
“I think there is a certain natural occurrence of ice ages and warnings,” Ceci Norman said. “But I think man does some things to accelerate that.”
To what degree remains at the center of intense debate.
The last sentence of this journalistic offering is, perhaps, the most offensive of the whole article. The only ‘intense debate’ about man-made climate change is the one manufactured by the US media and spread by ill-informed – usually politically right-wing – bloggers happy to accept its outpourings as gospel.
This type of journalistic mind-manipulation is not restricted to a second-rate news source in Texas. It abounds throughout America. It’s a ‘divide-and-conquer’ technique that takes the truth and wraps it in half-truths and downright lies, quoted by so-called ‘experts’ with no – or at best, shaky – qualifications.
In 1896, a Swedish chemist, Professor Svante Arrhenius, wrote a groundbreaking paper on carbon dioxide and atmospheric warming that prophesied the global impact of fossil-fuel use. It was largely ignored by his scientific colleagues.
Seventy years later, early computer models suggested Arrhenius might have been correct. It took nearly one hundred years before a sudden sharp rise in global temperatures in the late 1980’s woke science up to what was really happening.
Now, another thirty years on, the evidence is so overwhelming it’s impossible to ignore, yet still corporate America – terrified it may have to spend money, rather than make it – is behind a major effort to split popular opinion, in an attempt to delay the inevitable.
One hundred and ten years after manmade climate change was scientifically predicted, the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has finally woken up and opened its eyes.
It’s a pity it took so long, but then, maybe that had something to do with it’s other association.
 “STATE OF THE CLIMATE IN 2011” NOAA, July 7th 2012 (.pdf file)
 “NOAA scientist: 80 percent chance recent heat records due to climate change” Washington Post, July 10th 2012
 “NOAA links Texas drought to human behavior” KENS5.com, July 12th 2012